Stribog – Tvoje kraljevstvo zeleno
1. Dolazak zime
Label: Murderous Music Production
From now on I will think twice before calling an album “long awaited”. A whole decade has passed since what I now refer to as one of the best Slavic folk black metal records. Stribog’s debut full length “U okovima vječnosti” left a big mark on me personally, though a somewhat poor promotion prevented a significant mark on the European or global scene.
In the meantime, I guess Stribog was busy preparing a new one. Still, a decade seems a long time, though there are definite perks to taking time with creating art. Those perks are very much audible on “Tvoje kraljevstvo zeleno” (“Your green kingdom” in English).
However, there are some shortcomings. Especially with the production. It is proudly stated in the booklet that the album is completely D. I. Y. I can support that, but, in this case, the production should have been outsourced. Don’t get me wrong, everything is as clear as it gets, but somehow bland. If you pay attention to the drums in particular, it seems as if they are stuck in the background without a chance to shine or bring out more of an impact to the overall sound. This way the album lost quite a bit of the punch it could have carried. On the other hand, there’s a whole lot of bass guitar everywhere and it somewhat fills the “empty space”. Still, it cannot carry the whole backbone on its own.
The other thing are the vocals. Male vocals in particular. Sounds like Mr. Živković needs to work out on his vocal chords more, as he has a tendency to slide down from growls to shouts quite often. Now, that might have an impact of its own in those warmongering moments in the lyrics, but falls completely out of place when nature is the forerunner.
Still, everything else on this record is highly commendable! It must be noted that Stribog has switched directions to a degree. The mentioned folk black metal on their previous work is almost completely vanished. “Tvoje kraljevstvo zeleno” is something much more familiar to fans of Elvenking, for instance. Call it epic power metal, or simply folk metal, but that is mostly it. Some leftover traces of extreme metal genres are still there. However, they remain fragmental. Black metal as performed by later years Cradle of Filth or melodic death metal in Dissection’s vein appear from time to time, but just as spices. Music here is dominated by folk elements, mostly performed by keyboards, flute and occasional acoustic guitar. Complemented by lyrics dedicated to Slavic mythology and folklore, along with worship of Mother Nature, of course. “Tvoje kraljevstvo zeleno” is characterized by the epic and somewhat melancholic atmosphere, though there are more aggressive moments where the said call to arms is notable.
As expected, you can hear the musicians are very well matured and know how to use their collective skills in creating excellent tracks. They did a great job combining the mentioned elements into versatile but memorable songs. While they might not be the most original, they certainly bear Stribog’s very own mark and are easily recognizable. Whether it’s the guitars, flute, keyboards or vocals that “lead” at the specific moment, their respective parts are well developed and arranged into the whole. There is not much instrumental bravado used on the album, apart of guitar solos of course. Instead, the instruments serve the purpose of the songs themselves, which makes each of them stand out.
Out of all of this, the most important thing to remember is that Stribog and their new album are more than worthy of paying attention. In my book, “Tvoje kraljevstvo zeleno” is not as good as its predecessor, but it is just a matter of personal taste. You, my dear reader, might just have a completely different opinion. Still, we will agree that this is an excellent record!
One thing that still bothers me… Where did I hear the opening of “Hear the Perun’s Call” before? Help me out here!